The Navy captain who was removed from command of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Capt. Brett Crozier, fired from his post last week, had tested positive, citing two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier’s who are close to him and his family. A Navy spokesman declined to comment on Crozier’s health status.
The commander began exhibiting symptoms before he was removed from the warship Thursday, two of his classmates told the newspaper.
The San Diego-based Roosevelt is in port in Guam fighting an outbreak of COVID-19 among its crew.
Last week, Crozier sent a letter to the commander of the Pacific Fleet asking that the Navy evacuate 90% of its crew, writing, “We are not at war, and therefore cannot allow a single Sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily.”
The letter became public Tuesday when it was first published first by the San Francisco Chronicle.
On Wednesday, Thomas Modly, the acting Navy secretary, said the Navy was moving to do much of what Crozier asked in the letter, including a plan to move almost 3,000 sailors off the ship within days.
On Thursday, Modly announced he removed Crozier from command, saying that the wide dissemination of the letter — via “20 to 30" people on an email — reflected the captain’s “extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that there were 155 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among sailors aboard the aircraft carrier, and that more than half the ship had been tested. So far there have been no hospitalizations.
President Trump offered support for Modly’s decision, saying on Saturday, “He shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.... I thought it was terrible what he did.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday said on ABC’s “This Week” that Crozier should get a commendation for his actions, adding, “It’s close to criminal the way they’re dealing with this guy.”
A Navy spokesman told the New York Times that Crozier has been reassigned to the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego, but he must complete a quarantine period first.
He’ll be quarantined in “distinguished visitors quarters” on Naval Base Guam, the New York Times said.
Kucher writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.